By Mohd Asim Khan
New Delhi: Riding on a Modi wave and defeating anti-incumbency, the BJP on Wednesday retained with a sweeping majority its 10-year hold on the capital’s three civic bodies, routing the city’s ruling AAP which blamed rigged EVMs for its poor show in the municipal polls.
The BJP won 181 of the 270 wards that polled on Sunday, way above the halfway mark to secure control of all the three Municipal Corporations of Delhi – North, South and East. The BJP won 64 of 103 wards in North, 70 of 104 in South and 47 of 63 in East.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal could manage wins in just 48 wards and the Congress was way behind with 30 seats. The Bahujan Samaj Party won three wards, Indian National Lok Dal and Samajwadi Party one each and independents won six wards.
A jubilant BJP credited its continued electoral success to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who tweeted his thanks to the people of Delhi for retaining their faith in the party. “I laud the hardwork of (Delhi BJP) team which made the resounding MCD win possible.”
BJP President Amit Shah, who is in West Bengal, said the election results, coming close on the heels of the party’s successes in the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, have taken forward the “Modi and BJP juggernaut”.
Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, the brain behind the party’s “AAP se na ho ga” (AAP can’t do it) campaign, also credited the victory to Modi and his developmental policies.
Tiwari called for Kejriwal’s resignation, saying “the people of Delhi have exercised their right to recall” by voting against the AAP, which rode to power more than two years ago, winning 67 of the 70 legislative seats in the Delhi Assembly polls.
The poor showing is seen as a setback for Kejriwal, as the civic elections were largely viewed as a referendum on his two-year-old rule. Kejriwal congratulated the BJP, and said he is looking “forward to working with MCDs for the betterment of Delhi”.
Stunned by the defeat, the AAP alleged that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were rigged to help the saffron party win.
“Without rigging, such a massive win is not possible,” Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, reiterating the accusations the party has been raising since AAP’s defeat in the Punjab and Goa assembly polls.
He said it was “unbelievable” that the BJP could return to power in the civic bodies with such a massive win even as the MCD in the last 10 years had failed to maintain the upkeep of the city.
Alka Lamba, who represents Chandni Chowk in the assembly, said she was quitting on moral grounds for the party’s defeat in the seats falling under her constituency.
The Congress drubbing saw its Delhi unit Chief Ajay Maken resigning from the post owning up moral responsibility for the defeat, while veteran party leader and former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit put the onus of defeat squarely on local leaders.
The Congress was looking at a possible revival in Delhi, where it ruled for 15 years till 2013 but failed to win a single seat in the 2015 assembly elections or a Lok Sabha seat from Delhi in the 2014 polls.
The civic bodies are mainly responsible for the city’s cleanliness, hygiene, primary health and education and prevention of vector-borne diseases. The three corporations had a combined budget of nearly Rs 7,000 crore in the last fiscal.
The MCD polls are local in nature but the win is the latest in a series of BJP election victories credited largely to Modi.
The win has also boosted the BJP’s prospects for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and could act as a dampner to efforts of opposition parties to stop the Modi juggernaut.